Not long after he had returned from exile OR Tambo, the president of the ANC, visited Australia. Whilst there, it is reported that he told his audience that his organisation had no intention of inheriting an economic desert. Now, some 22 years later, where are we? Aren’t we in an economic desert, as it were? Haven’t we been led into an economic desert?
Right now we are trying to wade out of an economic recession. Unemployment is unacceptably high at 37%. 30 millions of our people are living below the poverty datum line. Our country is the most unequal. Corruption is rampant. Women and children are brutally murdered on a daily basis.
On the other hand, 400 of our national public representatives in the National Assembly, add another 90 from the National Council of Provinces, comprise our Parliament. These are the people who are ostensibly there to look after our interests. But they are having it cosy instead. Whilst 30 millions of our people are living on less than R1000 a month, the lowest paid of them earns R86,000 a month and the highest paid MP earns R266,400 a month; they eat subsidised lunches, Parliament lavishly subsidises their houses, motor vehicles; buys them laptops and cellular phones; while giving them unlimited medical aid and air time, 86 economy air tickets per annum and travel expenses for their families. They claim the money they use to travel between the airport and their homes.
Then comes the nine provinces. They have 430 members all in all. Let us average their salaries at R1 million rands per annum. Bring all the other perks into the bargain, and you will get a good idea about what’s going on here. The salaries alone clock R430 million.
There are 8 Metro Municipalities with the Executive Mayors and their Deputies and Mayoral Executive Committees and the councillors. There are 44 District Municipality with the Executive Mayors and their Deputies and councillors. And there are 205 Local Government Municipalities and the Deputies and councillors. There are ward councillors and PR councillors. The Mayors and the Deputy Mayors earn no less than R1 million. Members of the Mayoral Executive Committees receive a little else than R1 million, the ward councillors about R750,000 and PR councillors R500,000. They also receive their perks variously.
I have not said anything about Directors-General, they earn even more than cabinet Ministers, their deputies and the consultants. Deputy Ministers alone are paid R355 million per annum, all in all. The cabinet is 72 members strong, most probably the biggest in the world. The president and deputy president get R94.4 million for subsistence and travel, the salaries aside. There is a R61 billion government wage bill; R500 billion wage bill for cadre deployment.
Small wonder the killings for positions! What is more, those positions are shrinking and the opposition is growing. This on its own escalates and intensifies the internetcine warfare between the factions of the ruling party.
* The writer of this column, Nkutšoeu Motsau, was born in Top Location in the Vaal Triangle in 1953. He grew up in Sharpeville. He is a tetraplegic as a result of a car accident in July 2005 in Sharpeville and now resides in Cape Town, but still feels a deep rooted connection with the Vaal. Nkutšoeu is Chairperson of Azanla MVA).